04 Jul 2020


Early on in our history, it became an evolutionary necessity for humans to be able to travel from A to B quickly. It became essential for survival, whether it was for chasing down prey or outrunning predators. Fast forward a couple of hundred thousand years however, this is no longer the case. We can simply shop for our food and the likelihood of needing to outrun potential predators has somewhat dwindled. That does not mean, however, that sprinting no longer bears any benefits.

As a society we are unconsciously obsessed with the notion that the longer the distance we can run then the fitter we are. Think about it, whenever we aim to improve our fitness, we tend to go on long runs rather than complete a series of short, intense sprints. Though this notion may be true to an extent, fitness is about far more than just the distance you can run! I promise you, just because you can run mile after mile at a steady state does not for a second mean you will be able to breeze through a sprint endurance session! 

Sprinting can result in various physiological and other health-related benefits when performed properly and regularly. So, here are a few such benefits…

1. You can do it anywhere! The financial benefit of sprinting is that you do not need to pay for specialist equipment or a gym membership to complete a sprint session. It can be done anywhere from your local park, your local street, your own back garden if it is big enough or you can even, if you have no other option, sprint on the spot in your home. It’s that easy.

2. It improves body composition. Body composition is our body’s fat-muscle ratio. Various studies have concluded that sprinting is far superior than steady state running in burning fat and building muscle. It causes adaptions at a cellular level. Such adaptions include improved protein and oxygen synthesis in the muscles, helping to build muscle, and a metabolic ‘afterburn effect’. This ‘afterburn effect’ is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. Simply put, our bodies continue burning calories even after we have finished the sprint session.

3. It improves cardiovascular fitness. Sprinting is considered to have many cardiovascular advantages over steady state running. This is because repeated high intensity intervals lead to an increase in glycogen stores of up to 20%, increase oxygen uptake and increases the body’s ability to remove waste products during exercise, leading to a 50% increase in muscle buffering capacity.

4. Improves glucose control. Research published in BMC Endocrine Disorders suggested that sprinting reduces the risk of high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure, as well as improves cholesterol levels, cut abdominal fat, and improves sugar metabolism; this reduces the risk of dangerous glucose build-ups which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes.

5. It improves speed. Muscle fibres are classified into three types: type 1 (slow-twitch) and types 2a and 2b (fast-twitch). Sprint training increases the volume and strength of the fast-twitch fibres thus increasing overall sprint speed.

6. It reduces risk of cognitive decline. Sprinting helps with mental quickness and reaction time: which, evidence suggests, reduces the risks of cognitive decline and conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia as we age.

7. It reduces stress. After a sprint session, Endorphins are released, causing adrenaline and cortisol levels to drop, and reducing stress and anxiety, subsequently leading to a decreased risk of mental problems such as depression.

For more information about the benefits of sprinting and other forms of high intensity interval training, or to see how you can introduce sprinting into your fitness routine, get in touch with one of our strength and conditioning coaches at the MY Sports Injury Clinic in Manchester!

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